Individual Village Reports

Gosforth (Copeland Borough Council)

 

Introduction
Location

The village of Gosforth is in the administrative district of Copeland Borough Council, 14 miles south of Whitehaven on the A595 in the Lake District National Park.

Demographics
The village is in the parish of Gosforth with a population of about 1,336 people and 522 households.

Case study
The case study in Gosforth was on Hallbeck Place, a development of ten two-bedroom bungalows owned by Home Housing Association.

Profile of the Village
1. Important attributes for residents living in Gosforth

  • The number and variety of services available in Gosforth.
  • 100% of the respondents liked the peace and quiet or the friendly community.
  • 57% liked the peace and quiet and the location in the Lake District National Park and proximity to larger towns, such as Whitehaven.

‘The Lakes’ best kept secret.’

  • 43% of the respondents commented on the friendliness of the community as something they liked about Gosforth.

2. Services available in the village
There are many local services, which are also important for surrounding villages. The community organises activities and events that appear well attended. This also includes activities for the young, e.g. a young farmers club.

  • 100% of the respondents commented that the shop was a very important service to them and was well used. The post office, library and banks were also highly rated.

3. School
The school is a voluntary controlled infant and junior school. It is a mixed school and is for children aged 5 -11 years.
Information about the school has been taken from an OFSTED report in 2002.

OFSTED ‘liked the school but [it] wasn’t as effective as it should be in teaching every subject’.

  • There are 120 on the school roll.
  • The average number of pupils per qualified teacher is 22.
  • The average class size is 24.
  • 24 pupils are registered as having special needs.
  • It is very effective in maths, science and design and technology.
  • There is underachievement in English.
  • The quality of teaching ranges from satisfactory to good.
  • The curriculum is of a good range and quality.
  • The nearest secondary school is in Egremont.
  • There is an independent secondary school in Gosforth, which also runs a nursery, primary and junior school.
  • There is a nursery school, parent-and-toddler group and a registered childminder.

4. Police and fire

  • The village has been allocated a community police officer but the officer has moved to Millom (20 miles south), which can make things difficult.
  • The nearest police station is in Egremont (0900 - 16.30).
  • The nearest fire station is in Seascale, and is staffed part-time.

5. Transport

  • There is a bus service at least twice a day, 5 days a week.
  • 89% of the respondents had one car or more.
  • The nearest train station is Seascale (3 miles).
  • There is a community transport system.

6. Local employment

  • Gosforth’s main employer is the nuclear processing plant at Sellafield.

‘It is a Sellafield village.’

7. Weekly average incomes
Cumbria Rural Housing Trust’s Rural Housing Strategy details weekly average incomes in Copeland based on an average of figures available from Cumbria County Council, New Earnings Survey and the Office of National Statistics. Averages were used as figures varied greatly: this information should therefore be used only for illustrative purposes.

District

Gross Weekly IncomeWeekly IncomeLow PayHigh PayAverage annual Salary
Copeland BC£440.50256.80200.00621.00£23,000
*Note: Disposable income = 19% deducted from gross to take into account tax, NI and pension contributions

Employees on an average income would therefore need 3.5 times their annual salary to buy an average-priced house on the open market.

8. The cost of a bag of shopping
Compared with a nearby town-based supermarket.

  • Bread
  • Milk 1 pint
  • Eggs (6)
  • Beans (435g)
  • Tea (80-100bags)
  • Coffee (100g)
  • Toilet Rolls (4)
  • Butter (250g)

Total £7.75 @ Gosforth, £5.95 @ Co-op, Cockermouth.

Current housing provision in Gosforth
1. Case study - Hallbeck Place, Gosforth

  • Home Housing Association has ten two-bedroom bungalows.
  • They were completed in 1992.
  • None of the properties has been lost through Right to Buy.
  • The properties are not restricted by any local occupancy clauses.
  • Nominations are accepted from Copeland Borough Council.
  • The properties are Council Tax band C (£1,056.01).

Type of accommodation

Rent (per week)Service charge (per week)
2-bed houses£62.34Included
 

2. Other social housing provision

  • Home Housing Association owns three houses built in 1976. The rent is £54.19.
  • Home Housing also owns six timber houses built in 1948.
  • A total of four properties have been lost through Right to Buy.

3. Council Tax banding
The Council Tax bandings for Gosforth are:

Council Band A£792.01
Council Band B£924.01
Council Band C£1,056.01

4. Housing market (Jan-March 2003) (i)

Detached£125,681
Semi-Detached£46,940
Terraced£62,257
Flatno data
Average House Price£84,931

Key statistics

  • 3% of properties are rented social housing.
  • 17% of social landlord stock has been lost in the village through the Right to Buy. This figure includes social landlord stock where the Right to Acquire does not apply.
  • The 1991 census records a total of 20 properties where the accommodation is not used as a main residence or 4% of total housing stock.
  • Four properties have been lost through the Right to Buy and six forestry houses have also been lost into the open market.
  • The ratio of affordable housing to non-permanent-residence homes is 1:1.

1. Case study return rate
There was a 30% response rate from the case-study questionnaire showing:

2. Reasons for residents accepting a tenancy

  • 100% of the respondents were retired or had special needs.
  • 67% of the respondents had family and friends in the village.

3. Employment

  • 100% of the respondents were on disability benefit or were retired.

Case study planning details: ref no: 7/86/4009 outline and 7/86/4072 detailed
1. Housing need
There was no evidence of housing needs data from the time of either planning application. As the project was within the village boundary and part of a larger overall housing development of speculative housing, no needs information was required to justify a planning decision.

2. Timescale
Application date: 30.01.1986 (outline), 14.07.86 (detailed)
Decision date: 04.03.1986 (outline), 06.01.87 (detailed)
Planning permission notice date: 20.03.1986 (outline), 12.01.87 (detailed)

The actual time to receive detailed planning consent was six months, as a result of negotiations regarding general design and density. Despite the outline planning application granting approval for 12 units, negotiations at a detailed stage saw this number being reduced to ten two-bedroom bungalows.

3. Planning policy at the time of development
The site was within the development boundary, directly behind the main street, between the main street and a larger development of private houses.

4. Opposition and support to the scheme
The County highways department had no objection to the proposals provided various construction details could be agreed before construction started.

Both the District and Parish Councils supported the proposals.

Importance and impact of affordable housing in Gosforth
There was a mixed response to the impact and the importance of the affordable housing for the village. Hallbeck Place itself appears to have had a minimal impact but none the less most respondents agreed that affordable housing was needed in Gosforth and was important for its sustainability.

In addition many commented that nationally soaring house prices have affected many residents and there is concern for whether the younger generation would be able to remain in the village. One worker in the village, although he would have liked to live in Gosforth, has had to find accommodation in Seascale. One respondent was also disappointed that a local caravan park has limited its occupants to the over 50s as this will be of no benefit to the young who are currently facing a housing problem.

Some comments regarding affordable housing:

  • No more need and no more available space.
  • An allowance for starter homes would help.
  • Good idea as we need a mix of property types in every village to cater for every need.
  • Housing is beginning to rise in price and become expensive.
  • Not enough affordable starter homes to buy rather than rent.

Parish council views
The Parish Council generally agreed with the comments about the impact of affordable housing. They believed there is a need for two-, three-and four-bedroom properties to rent. They contend that there is space for more housing in the village but often find that the development restrictions imposed by the National Park Authority do not serve the best interests of the village, particularly where young people are wishing to settle down.

They also comment on the way vacancies are not locally advertised. This causes problems since there is evidence that if people put their name on a list they will not be offered a house in the village of their choice. In addition, if they turn this down, there is evidence that they will go to the bottom of the list. This is making more people reluctant to put their name forward.

They do agree that some residents are being forced to buy/rent at Seascale due to lower property prices and consider that there is a need for different schemes, such as a shared ownership scheme.

Conclusion
At present Gosforth is a sustainable working community without many serious housing issues, unlike in other parts of Cumbria. The services are well utilised by the local residents and those in surrounding hamlets. There are high school rolls and local employment is available.

The affordable housing in Gosforth was accepted as a necessary part of their village, and for its residents it meant living near family and being close to services and amenities. These services, as in Shap, were very important to Gosforth residents. As one resident remarked, it ‘is a village with a town mentality’.

Concerns were expressed about the future, namely that many of the young were going away to university and not returning. In addition, in keeping with the national and regional trend, house prices are on the rise and this could cause future problems. One local employee has experienced this and is now living in Seascale and commuting in, but would prefer to live in Gosforth. At present the need for housing is not desperate, and this has been supported by Home Housing Association who spoke of difficulties re-letting since demand was not high. However, there may be a time when affordable housing is a necessity if the community is to continue being sustainable and well balanced.

Sources:
i Land Registry www.landregistry.gov.uk and upmystreet.com

Hawkshead (South Lakeland District Council)

 

Introduction
Location

The village of Hawkshead is in the administrative district of South Lakeland District Council, in the heart of the Lake District National Park. It is about five miles from Ambleside along the A591 and B5286 and, by ferry, from Bowness-on-Windermere.

Demographics
The village is in the parish of Hawkshead and in 1995 had a population of about 608 in 308 households. (i)

Case study
The case study in Hawkshead was on Springwood, a development of four three-bedroom houses, two two-bedroom houses and two flats owned by Home Housing Association.

Profile of the Village
1. Important attributes for residents living in Hawkshead

  • 50% stated that the location and surrounding scenery of Hawkshead was important.
  • 50% stated that the good community spirit was also a key factor for living in Hawkshead.

2. Services available in the village

  • School
  • Four pubs
  • Post office
  • Pharmacist
  • Hairdresser
  • Co-op
  • Doctor

There are many services in Hawkshead, most relying on the tourist industry, such as the Beatrix Potter centre and outdoor clothing shops. The village is self sufficient and the school is well attended.

3. School

  • Hawkshead Esthwaite Primary School teaches children aged 4-11.

The details outlined below have been taken from the 2000 OFSTED inspection report.

  • 75 pupils on school roll

‘This is a good school. Standards are particularly high in the core subjects of English, mathematics, and science.’

4. Police and fire

  • The nearest police station to Hawkshead is in Windermere. This station is not staffed 24 hours a day.
  • There is no fire station in Hawkshead; the nearest are in Coniston and Ambleside. These are staffed part-time.

5. Transport

  • There is one bus at least twice a day, five days a week.
  • There is a bus to Ambleside, Windermere and Kendal
  • Hawkshead to Ambleside £2.85 (adult single).
  • Hawkshead to Windermere £5.30 (adult single).
  • Hawkshead to Kendal £5.85 (adult single).
  • 84% of residents own a car.
  • The nearest train station is Windermere.

6. Local employment
The following information on local employment for Hawkshead was provided by the ward councillor:

  • Tourism/service industry and retail
  • Outdoor centres and activities
  • Local services.

7. Weekly average incomes
Cumbria Rural Housing Trust’s Rural Housing Strategy details weekly average incomes in South Lakeland based on an average of figures available from Cumbria County Council, New Earnings Survey and the Office of National Statistics. Averages were used as figures varied greatly: this information should therefore be used only for illustrative purposes. Employees on an average income would therefore need 11 times their annual salary to buy an average-priced house on the open market.

District

Gross Weekly IncomeWeekly IncomeLow PayHigh PayAverage annual Salary
South Lakeland£350.00284.00153.00632.00£18,200
*Note: Disposable income = 19% deducted from gross to take into account tax, NI and pension contributions

8. The cost of a bag of shopping
Compared with a nearby town-based supermarket.

  • Bread
  • Milk 1 pint
  • Eggs (6)
  • Beans (435g)
  • Tea (80-100bags)
  • Coffee (100g)
  • Toilet Rolls (4)
  • Butter (250g)

Total £7.19 @ Hawkshead, £5.96 @ Asda, Kendal.

Current housing provision in Hawkshead
1. Case study – Springwood, Hawkshead

  • Home Housing Association has a development of four three-bedroom houses, two two-bedroom houses and two flats.
  • They were completed in March 1995.
  • South Lakeland District Council has 50% nomination rights.
  • No houses have been lost through Right to Buy as it does not apply to these properties.
  • The properties are restricted by a section 106 agreement.
  • Only one property has become vacant in the last year.
  • No difficulty has been found in re-letting the property.
  • The properties are in Council Tax band C (£1,047.71)

Type of accommodation

Rent (per week)Service charge (per week)
2-bed houses£68.660
3-bed houses£76.830
Flat£61.170
 

2. Other social housing provision

  • South Lakeland District Council has 12 two-bedroom bungalows at Barnfield and seven three-bedroom houses at Hawksgarth.
  • Nine three-bedroom properties have been lost through the Right to Buy.
  • The National Trust has 15 properties in Hawkshead.

3. Council Tax banding
South Lakeland District Council reported that the majority of properties in RSL ownership would be either band B, C and D.

Council Band B£916.74
Council Band C£1,047.71
Council Band D£1,178.67

4. Housing market (Jan-March 2003) (ii)

Detached£229,750
Semi-Detached£101,375
Terraced£189,781
Average House Price£199,310

Key statistics

  • 5% of total housing stock is rented social housing.
  • 38% of social landlord stock has been lost in the village through the Right to Buy. This figure includes social landlord stock where the Right to Acquire does not apply.
  • The 1991 Census records 78 properties where the accommodation is not used as a main residence or 25% of total housing stock.
  • The ratio of affordable housing to non-permanent-residence homes is 1:5.

4. Case-study return rate
There was a 50% response rate from the case-study questionnaire.

5. Reasons for residents accepting a tenancy

  • All the respondents from the affordable housing site came from the village.
  • Out of these, 33% had returned to the area.
  • 33% moved to increase their accommodation size.
  • 33% moved to form a new household.

6. Employment information
In the respondent households we found the following:

  • 50% of the tenants are employed full time.
  • 50% of the tenants are employed part time.
  • All respondents had use of a car, so could commute to work if necessary.
  • The commuting distance ranged from 5 to 40 miles.

Case study planning details: ref no: (7/94/5144)
1. Housing need
The housing needs information submitted in support of the planning application shows that 15 homes were needed over three years. Waiting lists showed 25 households registered for housing and 6 out of 14 council homes had been lost through Right to Buy.

A further survey in February/March 2000 by Cumbria Rural Housing Trust showed a further 19 households in housing need, despite the construction of Springwood.

2. Timescale
Application date: 30.03.94
Decision date: 04.07.94 (after various site visits)
Planning permission notice date: 28.02.95

The actual time to receive planning approval was three months. But the process of land acquisition and the subsequent signing of the Section
106 agreement delayed the issue of the actual planning permission notice, giving an overall timescale of ten months.

3. Planning policy at the time of development
This site was considered under the exception site policy.

A previous application for this site was withdrawn in 1993. Few details about the reasons for withdrawal were available.

4. Opposition and support to the scheme
Six letters were received from residents and one from the Friends of the Lake District that expressed the following concerns:

  • Urban-style intrusion into the countryside.
  • Loss of better-quality agriculture land.
  • The possibility that, in the long term, the houses would not be available to meet local needs.
  • Traffic hazards resulting from turning movements on the adjacent B road.
  • Detrimental effects on the tourism industry.
  • More suitable land is available in the village.
  • The development would have the appearance of ‘ribbon development’ of very little architectural merit.
  • The parking area and parked cars would be visually intrusive, particularly if lighting were introduced.
  • A precedent would be created, leading to further development in the area.
  • Garages should be provided, as this would be visually preferable to open-air car parking.

The district council, the parish council and the highways department all supported or had no objections to the development.

Importance and impact of affordable housing in Hawkshead

  • ‘Every single family lost is because they cannot afford a house’.
  • ‘I would estimate that about 2 dozen children [have been] lost from the school in the past 2 years.’
  • ‘Maintain family links’.
  • ‘Allowed children to go to local school’.
  • ‘Rent too high’.
  • ‘Water is on meter so cost can be high’.
  • ‘Need for more affordable housing as many friends had to move away’.

Parish council views
The parish council agreed with the findings of the survey.

Conclusion
The village’s economy depends on the tourist industry. Whether this reliance will sustain a community is questionable, as many local people appear to find access to affordable accommodation difficult, unless it is in the rented sector. This sector is small, at 5.23% of the total number of households. People think that more affordable housing is needed and that it should be cheaper. Evidence suggests a need for more low-cost housing.

Due to its attractive appearance and location, Hawkshead is a highly sought after village in which to own property, and this has meant that house prices are very high. The affordable housing is less expensive accommodation in comparison with open-market prices; however, this is still expensive compared to the average income of young families.

The affordable housing that has been built is regarded positively by the residents from both the homes and the village.
This appears to be because it has helped young families stay in the village which in turn has helped family connections, community spirit and to keep the local school populated.

Only one negative comment was made about the site.
So despite initial opposition to the planning application, this development appears to be successful.

Sources:
i Cumbria County Council 1997 Local Profiles, www.cumbria.gov.uk - Office for National Statistics, Information and Intelligence 1997
ii Land Registry www.landregistry.gov.uk and upmystreet.com


 

Bolton (Eden District Council)

Introduction
Location

Bolton is in the administrative district of Eden District Council, 10 miles south-east of Penrith and the M6 (junction 40), along the A66 to Appleby in Westmorland. The village is accessed via B roads.

Demographics
The village of Bolton is in the parish of Bolton and in 1995 had a population of about 337 in 135 households. (i)

Case study
The case study in Bolton was on Stephenson’s Croft, a development of six bungalows for the retired owned by Mitre Housing Association.

Profile of the Village
1. Important attributes for residents living in Bolton

  • 63% said they liked living in Bolton because of the scenery and the peace and quiet.
  • 75% listed the community as being important.

2. Services available in the village
Bolton has a few services. These include a small post office, selling some basic groceries; a few guest houses; a pub; a garage and two schools. The village hall organises a variety of activities for the community.

  • 100% of the respondents used the post office and saw it as an important service for the village

3. School

  • Bolton has one nursery school.
  • Bolton also has a community infant and junior primary school for mixed pupils aged 4-11 years.

‘This is a good school with a very supportive family atmosphere that is valued by parents.’

The details from the June 2002 OFSTED inspection report:

  • There are 34 children on the school roll.
  • The average number of pupils per qualified teacher is 14.8.
  • The average class size is 17.
  • The quality of the teaching ranged from satisfactory to very good.
  • The curriculum is of a good range and quality.
  • The provision for special needs was good.
  • Parental views were very positive and supportive.
  • The nearest Secondary schools are in Appleby-in-Westmorland and Penrith.
  • Only eight or nine of the pupils are from Bolton.

As Stephenson’s Croft is an elderly persons’ development, the development had no effect on the school.

 

4. Police and fire

  • The village has been allocated a community police officer and it is patrolled daily.
  • A mobile police station visits once a month.
  • The nearest main police station is in Appleby.
  • The nearest fire station is in Penrith; this is staffed part-time.

 

5. Transport

  • There is a bus service to Penrith and Langwathby
  • 96% of the residents in Bolton have one car or more.
  • The nearest railway stations are in Appleby and Penrith.

 

6. Local employment

  • Local employment opportunities in Bolton are limited to Eden Grove School, local garages and two or three farms.
  • Penrith and Appleby are popular employment centres for residents in Bolton.

 

7. Weekly average incomes
Cumbria Rural Housing Trust’s Rural Housing Strategy details weekly average incomes in Eden district based on an average of figures available from Cumbria County Council, New Earnings Survey and the Office of National Statistics. Averages were used as figures varied greatly: this information should therefore be used only for illustrative purpose.

District

Gross Weekly IncomeWeekly IncomeLow PayHigh PayAverage annual Salary
Eden£250.00205.00148.50554.00£13,000
*Note: Disposable income = 19% deducted from gross to take into account tax, NI and pension contributions

Employees on an average income would therefore require 8.5 times their annual salary to buy an average-priced house on the open market.

8. The cost of a bag of shopping
Local prices are compared with those in a nearby town-based supermarket.

  • Bread
  • Milk 1 pint
  • Eggs (6)
  • Beans (435g)
  • Tea (80-100bags)
  • Coffee (100g)
  • Toilet Rolls (4)
  • Butter (250g)

Total £7.19 @ Bolton, £5.05 @ Safeway, Penrith.

Current housing provision in Bolton
1. Case study – Stephenson’s Croft

  • Mitre Housing Association development.
  • Six two-bedroom bungalows.
  • Three were completed in 1988.
  • Three were completed in 1994.
  • Eden District Council has 50% nomination rights.
  • It has been 18 months to 2 years since any properties became vacant.
  • The rents are not restructured rents.
  • The development has Council Tax A banding (£772.47).
  • There is no Section 106 restricting occupancy on the properties.

Type of accommodation

Rent (per week)Service charge (per week)
6 x 2-bed bungalows£48 - £52£3.38 - £4.10
 

2. Other registered social landlord provision

  • Eden Housing Association transferred its housing stock from Eden District Council in 1997 and had two houses in Bolton from this period.
  • One house has been sold through the Right to Buy since 1 April 2001 at an average value of £44,000 after discount from an average valuation of £70,000.
  • In total four properties have been lost through the Right to Buy.
  • Two Castles Housing Association has a scheme of flats for rent.
  • Eden Housing Association reports a waiting list of 24 applicants for two and three-bedroom houses in Bolton.

3. Council Tax banding

Eden District Council reported that the majority of properties in RSL ownership would be band A, B or C. Council Tax bandings  for Bolton are as follows;

Council Band A£772.47
Council Band B£901.21
Council Band C£1,029.96
Council Band D£1,158.70

 

4. Housing market prices (Jan-March 2003) (iii)

Detached£170,279
Semi-Detached£91,472
Terraced£85,166
Flat£81,083
Average House Price£112,754

Key statistics

  • 7% of total housing stock is rented social housing..
  • 36% of social landlord properties have been lost through the Right to Buy. This figure includes social landlord stock where Right to Acquire does not apply.
  • The 1991 Census records four properties or 3% where accommodation is not used as a main residence. (iv)
  • The ratio of affordable housing to non-permanent-residence homes is 2:1.

1. Case study return rate
There was a 33% response rate from the case-study questionnaire.

2. Reasons for residents accepting a tenancy
The development is mainly for elderly people, so all the responses were from retired people who had wanted more suitable accommodation and to be nearer their family.

3. Employment
All respondents were retired.

Case study planning details: ref no: (91/07/10)
1. Housing need

Evidence of housing need was supplied by Eden District Council at the time of the planning application.

2. Timescale for permission
Application date: 23.09.91 Decision date: 16.01.92. The actual time to receive planning approval was four months.

3. Planning policy at the time of development
Eden District Council did not have a local plan at the time of this application, so there were no set policies under which applications were considered, other than good design, density, etc.

Eden District Council did not operate a village development boundary system, so any development in a village was treated according to its merits and its proximity to the existing structures in the village.

This planning application initially sought approval to develop two detached houses for the landowner and a terrace of three bungalows for the housing association. This application was deferred. An amended proposal for one detached house and a terrace of three homes was recommended for refusal by the planning case officer, but approved by planning committee.

4. Opposition and support to the scheme
The Parish Council raised no objections to the proposals but made several observations about access to the site and the requirement that the bungalows should be for local people. The highways department’s views of the development are not known. An adjacent owner was the only other known source of opposition. The grounds for opposition were: loss of view, reduced privacy and a source of noise and disturbance, all resulting in a drop in property value.

Importance and impact of affordable housing in Bolton

  • There was little impact on the services from the development.
  • There were more negative attitudes towards non-residents who had come to retire in the village and the new private developments being built.
  • The majority of respondents had no problem with the development.
  • Affordable housing developments were judged as important for the community.
  • Local service providers agreed that affordable housing is necessary for the village and their services, since young families are leaving because of the high house prices. The school naturally needs children to attend, and unless suitable and affordable housing is available numbers will drop and the school will suffer.
  • In addition, service providers and other respondents said that new private developments were not the answer for a sustainable village, as the people who can afford these prices are usually retired or second home owners. In addition they will tend to shop in the bigger stores or bring their own supplies, and will not need to use the school.

‘The private houses are sold for vast amounts and families can’t afford these prices.’
‘Those who own second and holiday homes don’t necessarily use the local services.’

Parish council views
The Parish Council widely accepted the conclusion given about Bolton and supported the concern of respondents for the village’s future regarding the increase in private developments and the consequences of this for the young, who cannot afford high prices.

‘I wouldn’t have minded if it (private developments) had been for the locals and families.’

Conclusion
Bolton has many small village charms about it and these are important to its sustainability. These include its obvious sense of community, its location, its intimate size and the presence of the shop and school.

It is suggested that Bolton is a sustainable village. However, several concerns about its future need to be addressed. Bolton makes a popular place for a second home and a place to retire. This is causing house prices to rise and it appears that young local families are finding it increasingly hard to afford to buy a home, so they are moving away. This is supported by evidence from the school, which told us that only eight or nine children were from the village itself. New private developments, which are at present being built, are not the answer as they will not attract the local person on an average wage. Young families are important to a balanced community and its sustainability, especially when the school plays such an integral part in it. Stephenson’s Croft meets the needs of the retired, it helps those living there to be near family. It needs to be ensured that Bolton is not forgotten and does not become a retirement village and that there is always affordable housing available when there is a need. This is especially important if young moving away starts causing a major impact on the sustainability of the village. Evidence would suggest a need for more low-cost home ownership accommodation to enable these young families to remain in the village.

Sources:
i Cumbria County Council 1997 Local Profiles, www.cumbria.gov.uk - Office for National Statistics, Information and Intelligence 1997
ii Cumbria County Council 1997 Local Profiles, www.cumbria.gov.uk
iii Land Registry www.landregistry.gov.uk and upmystreet.com
iv www.nationalstatistics.gov.uk

Lorton (Allerdale Borough Council)

 

Introduction
Location

The village of Lorton is in the administrative district of Allerdale Borough Council. It lies five miles south of Cockermouth on the B5289. The main town of Workington is eight miles west of the village via the A66. The village is in the Lake District National Park.

Demographics
The village is in the parish of Lorton with a population of about 214 in 132 households. (i)

Case study
The case study in Lorton was on Vale Cottages, a development of two two-bedroom houses and three three-bedroom houses owned by Mitre Housing Association.

Profile of the Village
1. Important attributes for residents living in Lorton

  • 50% of respondents said that location was important to them.
  • 75% of respondents said that the community spirit was important to them.

2. Services available in the village

  • Lorton is a small village. There is a local pub, village hall, school, shop, church, local groups and country house hotel.

3. School

  • Lorton Primary School is for children aged 4-11.

The details outlined below have been taken from the 1998 OFSTED inspection report.

  • There are 60 children on the school roll.
  • Ability in English is above the national average.

‘Lorton Primary is a very good school with many strengths.
It provides its pupils with firm foundations for the next stage of learning.’

The headteacher said there were more children at the school due to the affordable housing. Most of the residents at Vale Cottages were families.

4. Police and fire

  • The nearest police station to Lorton is in Cockermouth. This station is not staffed 24 hours a day.
  • There is no fire station in Lorton. The nearest is in Cockermouth.

5. Transport
There are at least two buses per day five days a week. The service runs from Lorton to Cockermouth and Buttermere, with a single adult fare of £1.

  • 90% of residents have a car.
  • The nearest train station is Penrith.

6. Local employment
The following information on employment for residents of Lorton was provided by the ward councillor:

  • Hardly any local employment.
  • Residents commute to Cockermouth and Workington.

7. Weekly average incomes
Cumbria Rural Housing Trust’s Rural Housing Strategy details weekly average incomes in Allerdale based on an average of figures available from Cumbria County Council, New Earnings Survey and the Office of National Statistics. Averages were used as figures varied greatly: this information should therefore be used only for illustrative purposes

District

Gross Weekly IncomeWeekly IncomeLow PayHigh PayAverage annual Salary
Allerdale BC£352.00285.00144.00476.00£18,304
*Note: Disposable income = 19% deducted from gross to take into account tax, NI and pension contributions

Employees on an average income would therefore need 5.5 times their annual salary to buy an average-priced house on the open market.

8. The cost of a bag of shopping
Compared with a local town-based supermarket.

  • Bread
  • Milk 1 pint
  • Eggs (6)
  • Beans (435g)
  • Tea (80-100bags)
  • Coffee (100g)
  • Toilet Rolls (4)
  • Butter (250g)

Total £8.86 @ Lorton, £5.95 @ Co-op, Cockermouth.

Current housing provision in Lorton
1. Case study-Vale Cottages, Lorton

  • Mitre Housing Association has two two-bedroom houses and three three-bedroom houses.
  • They were completed in 1997.
  • The local authority has 50% nomination rights.
  • The properties are restricted by section 106 agreement.
  • No houses have been lost through Right to Buy.
  • The properties are in Council Tax bands C and D (£1,081.28 and £1,145.57).

Type of accommodation

Rent (per week)Service charge (per week)
3-bed house£62.91£0.49
2-bed house£70.59£0.49
 

2. Other social housing provision

  • Home Housing Association had three three-bedroom houses at Broomcroft.
  • These properties were built in 1955.
  • All these properties have been lost through Right to Buy.


 
3. Council Tax banding
The Council Tax bandings for Lorton are:

Council Band A£763.71
Council Band B£891.00
Council Band C£1,018.28
Council Band D£1,145.57

4. Housing market (Jan-March 2003) (ii)

Detached£126,400
Semi-Detached£94,428
Terraced£85,281
Average House Price£95,370

Key statistics

  • 3.5% of properties are rented social housing.
  • 37.5% of social landlord stock has been lost in the village through the Right to Buy. This figure includes social landlord stock where the Right to Acquire does not apply.
  • The 1991 census records 40 properties in Lorton where the accommodation is not occupied as a main residence. Therefore some 30% of properties in Lorton are non-permanent-residence homes.
  • The ratio of affordable housing to non-permanent-residence homes is 1:10.

1. Case study return rate
There was an 80% response rate from the case-study questionnaire showing:

2. Reasons for residents accepting a tenancy

  • 50% of respondents originated from the village.
  • 25% of respondents had friends and connections with the local school.
  • 25% of respondents had no connections with the village.

3. Employment information

  • 75% of respondents had a full-time worker in their household.
  • 25% of respondents are retired.
  • All respondents had use of a car, so could commute to work if necessary.

Case study planning details: ref no: (7/96/2024)
1. Housing need
The details of the original housing needs survey which supported this application are not available. A housing needs survey was conducted in March 2000 by Cumbria Rural Housing Trust.

Despite the building of these five extra homes, there is still demand from 13 households, including three people who wish to move back to the village.

During the survey people said there was difficulty finding tenants for the previous five houses: residents had to be drawn from outside the area. The question ‘would you object to a small number of new homes, which would help to meet the needs of local people?’ attracted numerous negative comments.

2. Timescale
Application date: 12.02.96
Decision date: various site visits occurred; the last file date appears to be 02.10.96 where the proposal was deferred for further clarification.
Planning permission notice date: 05.03.97

The actual time to receive planning approval was one year from application to the date of the planning notice; this includes any time to acquire
the site and agree the section 106 agreement.

3. Planning policy at the time of development
This site was considered under the exception site policy.

4. Opposition and support to the scheme
The parish council approved the proposals in principle, but ‘would wish to see modifications to access and materials’. The highways department also raised ‘strong concerns about visibility’.

The district council recommended approval of the application despite ‘concerns over this site’.

The application spurred ten letters of support for the proposal, including one from the local vicar. Extracts from some letters read as follows;

‘development of local rented housing for the young people of the district‘,
‘if we don’t get extra housing we will lose the continuation of our village life’.

A 34-name petition was submitted in support from local people and a parish councillor.

There were six letters of opposition, including two from the adjacent owners. The opposition was on the basis of ‘visual intrusion, lack of need, the isolated nature of the site, and the design details of the scheme’.

Importance and impact of affordable housing in Lorton

‘It is essential for the maintenance of local children at the village school.’

  • Affordable housing helped keep families in the area.
  • One response to the suggestion of more affordable housing in the village was: ‘There would be opposition to build any type of housing in the area.’
  • A view that there is very little affordable housing in the village.
  • A view that the affordable housing site was built because of a local need that has now been fulfilled.
  • A view that affordable housing is essential for the maintenance of the village school.
  • There has been no impact on the local businesses (apart from the school) since the affordable housing was built.
  • A view that the rent in the affordable housing site is reasonable.

Parish council views
One finding of a parish council survey was that there were 48 people of 16 years and under living in Lorton. This was felt to dispel the view that Lorton is an ‘elderly’ village.

The findings also revealed that there were 27% of holiday and non-permanent-residence homes in Lorton. This is a high proportion considering the size of the village. In turn this has affected many activities such as neighbourhood watch schemes.

There is a need for affordable housing for young people who want to return to the village. The case-study development has lost four tenants who considered the rent too high.

Conclusion
According to one respondent the mix of people in Lorton has changed over the years. In the 1960s it was still a village of local people and a farming community. Now, increasing house prices and the number of people wanting to retire to the village or buy a second or holiday home have led many residents to regard Lorton as a village for the elderly.

The parish council disagreed. It also expressed a preference for holiday homes rather than second homes as at least these would bring some income into the village. It was also suggested that if there were more housing in Lorton, local demand would not be enough to fill it, suggesting that the original community in Lorton has now left. However, most residents agreed that affordable housing has helped families stay in the village, and therefore Vale Cottages has had a positive effect on the village. Yet residents and parish councillors feel the rents are too high and some feel that there is a need to cater for middle-income households (£15k to £30k) and there should be a shared-ownership option with the properties.

In conclusion, Lorton is still a sustainable community. It appears the main issue affecting the sustainability of the village in the future, however, is an increase in the demand for second homes which is pushing up property prices.

Sources:
i Cumbria County Council 1997 Local Profiles, www.cumbria.gov.uk - Office for National Statistics, Information and Intelligence 1997
ii Land Registry www.landregistry.gov.uk and upmystreet.com